Gavin Baker+ Your Authors @GavinSBaker Husband, Becky Painter. CIO, Atreides Management. Former PM, Fidelity OTC fund. No investment advice, views all my own. Mar. 09, 2019 4 min read + Your Authors

1) Final thoughts on @eugenewei brilliant post after my original thread re: $FB. I respectfully think his framework falters upon application to videogames, especially multiplayer games. Relevant to $EA, etc. As I’ve written before, these franchises are more durable than believed

2) “Video games illuminate the proof of work cycle better than almost any category…the drosophila of this type of analysis given its rapid life cycle and overt skill-versus-reward tradeoffs. Why is it…that big hit games tend to have a life cycle of about 18 months?” They don't!

3) Multiplayer games last longer than 18 months. Some of the “drosophilia” like WoW are as old as  and CoD is 1 yr older. I am going to try to explain how/why these games have been so durable, which largely confirm @eugenewei rec’s for social networks.

4) “A new game offers a whole new set of ...challenges, and players jump into the status competition with gusto. But, eventually, skill differentiation tends to sort the player base cleanly.” Note: Skill based matchmaking (SBMM) in many multiplayer games obscures this “sorting.”

5) “Players rise to the level of their mastery and plateau. Simultaneously, players become overly familiar with the game's challenges; the dopamine hit of accomplishment dissipates.” Note: Players don’t rise or fall to their true level of mastery because of matchmaking.

6) Multiplayer videogames manage PvP “status as a svc” via matchmaking. Even unskilled players get a dopamine hit every 3-7ish games as the matchmaking systems ensures they get a win, improved/positive K/D, etc. Everyone thinks they are a better player than they actually are.

7) This is why a large player base is such an advantage for a PvP centric multiplayer game – it is easier to efficiently administer dopamine hits in a variable way in-line with B.F. Skinner’s research and thereby manage “status as a service.” SBMM is continuously toggled.

8) And a large player base makes the gaming experience in and of itself better – more exciting games, less lag (better CBMM), etc. While winning is a dopamine hit, winning a close game is much more powerful – a “peak” experience. Metcalfe’s law(ish) in videogames.

9) The ways videogames use matchmaking to administer “status as a svc” is a roadmap for social networks in that they can lower the bar for new, unskilled players (boost engagement/likes) and raise the bar for more skilled players as @eugenewei suggests

10) Sidenote – most videogame co’s deny using SBMM (players think they dislike) and claim to only use connection based matchmaking (CBMM). This is not the truth. They almost all use SBMM (along w/ CBMM) to varying degrees and with varying frequency. Drift0r had to pay out $1000

11) Multiplayer games are also actual social networks that I suspect follow the Dunbar number. A casual perusal of the size of the avg friends list on Xbox Live shows a clustering around 150. I would love to see research on this. Steam/Discord/XboxLive/PSN = successful Path.

12) Combination of 1) managing status as a svc. through matchmaking and 2) being satisfying, Dunbar level social networks are why multiplayer games like CS:GO, League of Legends, World of Warcraft, R6, etc. have been so durable.

13) However, I am thinking about videogames differently as a result of @eugenewei post. “The danger of having a proof of work burden that doesn’t change is that eventually, everyone who wants to mine for that social currency will have done so, and most of it will be depleted.”

14) “At that point, the amount of status-driven potential energy left in the social network flattens. If, at that inflection, the service hasn’t made headway in adding a lot of utility, the network can go stale.” Utility in this case = dopamine hits and humans like variety

15) “One way to combat this, which the largest social networks tend to do better than others, is add new forms of proof of work which effectively create a new reserve of potential social capital for users to chase.”

16) In videogame terms, as identified by @eugenewei - new forms of “proof of work” are absolutely essential to keeping the game vibrant – not to enable new status games, but to keep the existing status games interesting. New maps, weapons, characters, seasons, modes etc.

17) For single player games with a multi player game bolted on, this necessitated entirely new games – and allowed more upfront monetization - but the world is moving away from this (CS:GO, League of Legends, Fortnite, R6, Apex Legends, PUBG etc.).

18) Games like Battlefield that require one to start over every 1-2 years are like social networks that annually take your follower count, likes, to zero. This is becoming an outdated way of managing Status as a Svc. for the industry. Finite games are becoming infinite games.

19) This is why Destiny2 was so detrimental to the franchise. Players missed their Chatterwhite shaders, etc. All existing status was prematurely destroyed. And Destiny2 was much smaller than Destiny1 at the time of release – fewer Raids, strikes, etc.

20) Much better to continuously bolt new forms of proof of work on to an existing, always evolving game than start from zero every year. And monetize through those new, more incremental forms of “proof of work” over a steadily growing player base. GaaS.

You can follow @GavinSBaker.


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